Aside from providing an education, schools have a responsibility to keep pupils, staff and visitors safe. Whether that is in the classroom, the playground or elsewhere on site, those in charge of school security must protect individuals from a range of threats.

In this comprehensive guide, we look at the pros and cons of installing CCTV in schools.

Whilst protecting pupils and keeping others safe on school grounds, those in charge of security need to make informed choices. They need to take a rounded, balanced view of all the implications; both positive and negative of installing CCTV at their school.

The intention of this guide is to arm those in charge of school security with the information to make the right security choices for the right reasons.

What are the pros and cons of using CCTV cameras in schools and classrooms?

There are a plethora of advantages and a few drawbacks to installing CCTV in schools. In the third and fourth parts of this guide, we will give a detailed overview of each. in the second section, we summarise the key security threats and risks schools face.

Before we start, here is a quick summary of the key pros and cons of installing CCTV cameras in schools and classrooms.

They are:

  • Improving teacher safety
  • Protecting pupils
  • Deterring vandalism in schools
  • Dealing with harassment, bullying and anti-social behaviour
  • Detecting and deterring break ins and theft
  • Spotting drug dealers, and pupils drinking alcohol onsite

In terms of the disadvantages and drawbacks, to summarise, they are:

  • Privacy
  • You can’t stop every crime
  • Costs and repairs
  • Poor systems

The different security threats schools face

Before delving into the pros and cons of using CCTV in schools, it’s important to highlight the range of security threats schools face.

This will provide context to the rest of this guide.

What are the different security threats schools face?

Schools deal with a range of security threats and risks. These include:

  • Bullying
  • Break ins
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Harassment
  • Sexual offences
  • Alcohol and drugs

If you are looking to learn more about this topic read our article covering the diverse range of school security risks and threats.

School CCTV cameras

The pros of installing CCTV cameras in schools & classrooms

Considering the threats mentioned earlier in this guide, there are a whole host of pros to having professionally installed CCTV cameras inside and outside of a school.

Whilst we always hope none of these threats come to fruition, when they do the impact can be significant to pupils, parents, teachers and the school itself.

Let’s start with this section that covers the key pros of installing CCTV cameras in schools and classrooms.

They are:

Improving teacher safety

Over the years, there has been an increase in the volume of attacks on teachers in schools. Violence toward teachers can be a key issue for some schools.

Teachers need to feel secure and safe in their place of work. CCTV cameras in school classrooms, and in the corridor, can offer peace of mind to a teacher when delivering lessons.

External security cameras covering exits, the car park, and other areas can offer teachers the security they are being looked after and protected.

Finally, although infrequent, there are alarming incidents where teachers are on the receiving end of sexual offences.

Well placed CCTV cameras will serve to deter these threats.

Protecting pupils

Schools protect their pupils from a range of threats through deploying CCTV cameras. Drug dealing, bullying and violence are all too commonplace in schools.

Furthermore, accidents happen, and CCTV cameras can help a school  improve its health and safety measures.

Lastly, there are the occasional reports in the press of inappropriate advances from teachers towards pupils.

You can deploy internal and external security cameras in order to mitigate these threats.

Deterring vandalism in schools

Whether its committed by pupils or other individuals, vandalism can be a costly nuisance for schools. Well placed CCTV cameras can function as a robust deterrent to opportunistic vandals.

Alongside audio intervention, this helps deter vandals from conducting these needless acts.

Example of vandalism in schools: Historic Leicester school’s future decided after years of arson and vandalism

Dealing with harassment, bullying and anti-social behaviour

Bullying and anti-social behaviour is unfortunately commonplace in schools.

Harassment is another unfortunate school security issue that requires dealing with.

Whether it’s pupils bullying their classmates or harassing teachers, security cameras fitted in classrooms, corridors and around the playground can help deal with this issue.

Audio recording as well as visual footage can be used in evidence. To ensure the CCTV footage can be used in evidence, high resolution HD CCTV and IP security cameras are highly recommended.

Related reading: The impact of bullying in schools

Detecting and deterring break ins and theft

CCTV cameras in schools can be used as a deterrent. They can also be deployed to detect situations as they unfold. This means crimes can be deterred, but also intruders can be detected and dealt with accordingly.

Schools with onsite security may spot an intruder and can deal with them appropriately. Budget conscious schools would be well recommended to consider CCTV monitoring and an effective solution.

With CCTV monitoring, cameras can be fitted with sensors. If triggered, an alarm is raised to an offsite security team, to deal with the threat remotely.

Example of theft at a school: Burglar broke into £14k-a-term Oxford public school

Spotting drug dealers, and pupils drinking alcohol on school grounds

For some schools drugs and alcohol can be a real issue. County lines drug gangs can infiltrate schools and snare vulnerable kids by manipulating them into selling drugs on site.

Teenagers drinking alcohol and taking drugs at school can be a real threat to pupil and teacher safety.

ANPR CCTV cameras can be deployed to track and spot the number plates of known vehicles belonging to drug dealers.

Lastly, well placed CCTV cameras in and around the school grounds can help to deter and detect kids sneaking off and getting drunk!

Related reading: The benefits and advantages of school CCTV systems

The cons (disadvantages) of installing CCTV cameras in schools

You may be surprised for a security company to include this section in a guide to using CCTV in schools.

However, this guide isn’t a self-promotional piece of marketing.

Over the years Safeguard Systems has worked with dozens of schools. We understand the broad range of factors and considerations those in charge of school safety need to address when considering their security options.


Some pupils may experience a level of anxiety knowing they are being watched. Innocent, well behaved pupils may feel their privacy is being infringed by the presence of surveillance cameras.

Occasionally,  parents may object and feel the school is breaching their children’s privacy.

To negate this issue, the school should communicate why the cameras are being installed to all stakeholders – parents, pupils, teachers, cleaners and visitors.

You can’t prevent every crime from happening

Whilst CCTV is a robust deterrent, you can’t prevent every crime from taking place. Criminals will take the chance and commit crimes even if they spot the cameras.

If this is a concern, there are a couple of solutions on offer.

CCTV monitoring allows you to spot and deal with threats in real-time.

Furthermore, audio intervention allows onsite or offsite security personnel to communicate with an intruder and warn them they are ware of their presence.

Costs and repairs

School budgets aren’t infinite and large sites may require a system that stretches the finances of the school.

Furthermore, pupils may vandalise cameras resulting in added ad-hoc repair costs.

To help reduce initial costs, we would recommend considering paying for a CCTV system on finance. Payments can often be spread over 3-5 years and can include maintenance and call out fees.

Cheap CCTV security camera systems

Those in charge of security may go for the cheapest system, if finances are stretched.

In many cases this results in poor CCTV footage and image clarity. A cheap security camera system offering poor CCTV footage and image quality will inhibit accurate detection resulting in thieves, vandals and intruders going undetected.

As mentioned above, if capital expenditure is a challenge, there are plenty of finance options available.

Related reading: School ANPR & CCTV case study

CCTV laws and regulations

As mentioned at the start of this guide, schools have a responsibility to keep pupils, teachers, staff and visitors safe.

Using CCTV schools is one of the ways to do this effectively.

However, there are laws and regulations that need to be followed and adhered to when using CCTV cameras in schools and classrooms.

They are:

  • GDPR
  • CCTV in school toilets
  • Adherence with the ICO code of practice


When using CCTV in schools, there is a legal requirement to follow the relevant Data Protection Legislation.

This is to ensure the CCTV system is controlled and best practices are upheld to minimise the risk of data loss.

CCTV in school toilets

You may find this surprising, but schools are allowed to install CCTV in their toilets. In 2018 the ICO stated “CCTV cameras should only be used in toilet areas in exceptional circumstances.”

This covers where there are issues around drug misuse, sexual conduct, and the potential for self-harm and suicide.

Source: Parents angry as secondary school installs CCTV in student toilets

Adherence to the ICO code of practice

There are six clear steps that you need to follow when installing CCTV in schools.

They are:

  • Think about how you’ll respect people’s privacy and uphold their rights
  • Consider if you need to use audio
  • Create a document that explains your decision
  • Update your policies
  • Pay attention to how your CCTV is set-up

Find out more: The ICO Guide to Installing CCTV

Article summary: The pros, cons & law of using CCTV cameras in schools & classrooms

To summarise, the pros of installing CCTV in schools and classrooms far outweigh the drawbacks and disadvantages.

For example, if you have an issue with bullying, drug taking, and attacks on teachers, using CCTV in classrooms far outweighs any risk to privacy concerns.

Furthermore, the impacting of burglary or significant theft of equipment, in our opinion, outweighs the cost of installing an effective CCTV system.

Installing school CCTV cameras with Safeguard Systems

If you are looking for a reputable security company with extensive experience installing CCTV systems for schools, our team is on had to help.

We hold experience working with:

  • State schools
  • SEN & SEND schools
  • Independent and private schools

To talk to a school security specialist call 0800 689 1835 or visit out school security page for more information.